Can you imagine world where people live without gadgets, machines and the various vagaries of the modern day? Jess Thristan can, and judging by her latest single, she quite likes the idea of it.
The video, ‘Live on Love’, can be seen above and speculates as to whether everything we use to make our lives easier actually prevents us from feeling happy and free. Deep stuff no doubt, but thankfully the message comes in the form of a fun, summery acoustic track that will stick in your head for days afterwards.
The song is taken from a brand new EP, also called ‘Live on Love’, which boasts two more tracks which are equally great. So if you’re enjoying the song above as you read this, jump on iTunes now and support independent music.
Coming at 58 minutes and comprising 14 songs, the debut album from songwriter Michael Armstrong is something of a rarity in modern times. It’s a throwback to when albums had more substance and volume, when they were packed out to the full with quality tracks, as opposed to today’s equivalent – 45 minutes of music, mostly filler to make up the numbers around the singles.
A romantic notion perhaps, that the musicians of yesteryear all outweigh those of modern times, but that’s the feeling you’re left with by Michael Armstrong’s album. It’s a look back at the styles and ideas of songwriting past, giving credence to the phrase ‘they don’t make them like they used to’. It feels like Armstrong understands this point, and writes songs based on the older ways – and it pays off.
Maybe it’s the lovely production on the double layering of acoustic guitars that runs through it, maybe it’s the use of several saxophone solos throughout the album, but this is a new album not grounded in the modern. Instead inspiration comes from classic songwriters and the album is all the better for it.
It’s fitting then that one of the most moving tracks on the album is a cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Allentown’. That’s not to say that the original songs on show here aren’t great, but this cover sums things up nicely. A tribute to the good old days of songwriting, but with a contemporary sheen:
Released on June 29th, the debut solo album from Jerry Lawson is yet another new lease of life for the incredible 71 year old. With a career spanning decades – 40 years and 22 albums – the veteran has made his name before now as part of groups The Persuasions and Talk of the Town. Now though, he’s going it alone for the very first time, and the result is this excellent album.
It seems odd to call it a ‘debut’ following a career which has seen Lawson sing with the likes of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder all the way up to Joni Mitchell and Rod Stewart, but this is the first time he’s stepped into the spotlight by himself.
With the help of the Grammy nominated producer Eric Brace (of Nashville’s Beet Records), Lawson has crafted an fitting showcase to one of the greatest, most affecting voices you’re every likely to hear. It’s not often these days that a vocalist has the experience and gravitas to back up style with substance, but Jerry Lawson imbues songs with true depth and soul. The album is out on Monday, and we highly recommend you make a note in your diary to check out http://redbeetrecords.com/ for your very own copy.
Jess Thristan, one of the UK’s most exciting artists at the moment, is someone who regularly surprises you. And, with a new EP out next week, the above video has been circulating, showing her on top form as she covers the Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth track ‘See You Again’.
Taking the slickly produced pop/hip hop hit and stripping it back to lovely effect, Thristan has shown her ability once again to find the heart of a song with her faultless vocal. Much better than the original, and well worth a listen.
Comprising 12 tracks of straight pop with great depth and tone, Australian vocalist Daniel Koek has released a new album titled ‘High’ (available on iTunes now).
Dominated by Koek’s spectacular vocals, the album is a great showcase for a performer who recently ended his run in the West End and Les Miserables’ Jean Valjean. It’s no surprise that he has a great voice then, but the album has much more than that to offer.
With a serious tone to match the serious talent, the songs unfold gradually, many of them building to huge final choruses having started quietly. This formula, far from being predictable, allows that stellar vocal to develop track after track. The backing, ranging from simple acoustic moments to full horn, strings and orchestral sections, is brilliantly recorded, each tiny nuance adding an impressive whole.
The song selection is good too. Presumably chosen and arranged to compliment Koek’s voice, the collection of pre-existing pop hits, musical numbers and classical pieces suit him perfectly. In particular, the evenly paced ‘You’re the Only Place’ gives a lot of room for an operatic-pop vocal, while ‘Always and Forever’ is a fittingly heartfelt closer to a very good listen. Top track honours however probably go to the new, double layered arrangement of classic Les Mis song ‘Bring Him Home’, featuring the vocal not only of Koek but guest Jonathan Ansell.
Poignant in more ways than one, the video above is a snippet of the latest single from the globe trotting vocal group Tenors of Rock – a cover of Dire Straits’ timeless hit ‘Brothers in Arms’.
The single itself is typical Tenors of Rock fare, an already evocative track given a different slant with the soaring harmonies. However, the track also comes attached to a recent sporting tragedy.
Welsh rugby league player Danny Jones passed away on the pitch recently from complications surrounding a heart condition, and is survived by his wife and two small twin daughters. Touched by his passing, Tenors of Rock have released ‘Brothers in Arms’ in tribute to the player, with profits going directly to his family.
Like we said before, poignant in more ways than one.
Hot on the heels of his debut solo album ‘Change of Heart’, vocalist-turned-actor-turned-vocalist Jules Knight is releasing a new single from the LP titled ‘It’s Only Life’. The single – a contemplative, slow build pop song which does evolve into something of an epic – is a real crowd pleaser, a slickly produced ballad which doesn’t stray into cheese.
This is particularly important given the fact that, in another life, this could easily have been a track on Lionel Richie’s heyday playlist. Richie is now a well established proponent of the old school mainstream, but Jules Knight’s more contemporary feel keeps it radio friendly and hugely accessible.
There’s no denying this is music built for a wide target audience, and there’s no doubt that musical cynics might be sniffy of its mass appeal. But this isn’t made for hipsters or wannabe critics – this is a song for people who simply enjoy a good, impassioned singalong.
Find album ‘Change of Heart’, including the single, on iTunes now.